This week we celebrate the 29th anniversary of the (original) KTLA Morning News in Los Angeles – the Barbara-Carlos-Mark-Sam version was the highest-rated local morning program in TV history! This show provided me with so many life-long friends, a treasure trove of memories and videos, it brought me a mantle full of Emmy Awards and it bought me my first house and half a dozen cars! A few years ago, I wrote a book about my phenomenal experiences starting up the KTLA Morning News – Personality Driven – The Secret Sauce For Selling News. On the off-chance that you haven’t read it, I’m posting the first chapter here – all about the little show that became a monster hit – completely by accident! Continue reading THE KTLA MORNING NEWS JULY 8, 1991
I watched Bobbie Battista religiously on CNN Headline News back in the day. You see, it was my job. The weekend producer at WLWT had me, their intern, logging CNN newscasts for any video we could use from CNN on our shows. OMG! Lynne Russell, Lynn Vaughn, Gordon Graham, that anchorman with one leg, Toria, Chuck Roberts! I watched them all but Bobbie was always my favorite! Continue reading AROUND THE WORLD IN 30 MINUTES
In the mid ’80’s, I was a mere intern at the NBC affiliate, WLWT in Cincinnati, working with Norma Rashid and Richard Hull. Nick Clooney was the WKRC news anchor who owned the market after stealing it from Al Schottelkotte at WCPO. Every time I was sent out to cover spot news stories – shootings, stabbings, fires, car accidents – whatever – I was there for Channel 5 – Nick was there for Channel 12. Obviously he got the best interviews because everyone wanted to talk with THE Nick Clooney. I came across this WKRC promo and I can verify it’s true. Nick was all over the streets of Cincinnati, right next to little intern Ray. I love the shot where Nick is interviewing Mayor Jerry Springer – the man who will ultimately unseat him as the market’s #1 news anchor. These were great days. Continue reading IN THE NICK OF TIME
Bonnie Franklin was a very good friends of ours at The KTLA Morning News. Every on-stage event we had, there she was joining in! I recently came across one of her earliest acting roles – as Sally in You’re The Judge from 1965. It’s an ephemeral film from that era produced by Crisco. Two girls are trying to “trap” two boys and the only way they figure they can do it is through their stomachs with some chicken and some cheating! It’s a wonderful lesson for the children of tomorrow! Enjoy. Continue reading A SHORT ABOUT SHORTENING
One of the best things about television in the ’70’s and ’80’s were those yearly image campaigns by each of the networks pushing their new fall lineup. ABC, CBS and NBC always seemed to be trying to out do each other every year with bigger, louder and more star-studded campaigns than the year before. Aside from the eye popping visuals, there were the catchy jingles accompanying each campaign. 1982’s winner was, hands down, ABC with it’s “Come On Along” theme. The network actually allocated a budget, hired a chopper and paid some of its talent to appear in scenes shot specifically for this campaign. Fonzi and Chachi, Mr. Roarke & Tattoo, Laverne and Shirley, Max from Hart To Hart, that Benson guy, Joanie (Erin Moran, who lived near me for many years in Los Angeles, RIP) and even Scooby Doo showed up in Manhattan to get bystanders to come on along. It’s the promotion people running amok, schlock galore, and I love every second of it: Continue reading 1982 IMAGE CAMPAIGNS
Two television treasures here from the golden age of local TV. I found these films just the other day and couldn’t wait to get them on-line for you to check out. I’ve never seen either presentation before but both films highlight independent station KTLA as a true forerunner in early television production from back in the day when owned by Paramount Studios. These are priceless portraits of local TV’s “coming of age” and the pioneers who put it all together. Continue reading A PRICELESS PORTRAIT OF TV’S PAST
When you combine two words, “popular” and luxury, you create “Populuxe”. It was a consumer culture and aesthetic in the U.S. in the 1950’s and ’60’s. The look and feel of Populuxe was one of futuristic and Space Age influence. You can identify the Populuxe movement in films, graphics, clothing designs, furniture, interior design and architecture. And nowhere is it more on display than a few of the short films I’ve collected below.
“DESIGN FOR DREAMING” (1956)
First is Design For Dreaming, a film which was shown before the feature film at movie theaters across the country. It was created to highlight the General Motors Motorama of 1956, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York and new Frigidaire appliances. Tad Tadlock, a dancer and choreographer plays the woman caught in pink pajamas going to the Motorama. Her masked suitor is dancer and choreographer Marc Breaux. The film is an over-the-top, dream-dance piece of puffery which is why it’s so fascinating to watch. Directed by William Beaudine and produced by Victor Solow for MPO Productions, it’s once of those productions I wish I had a hand in producing. I’ve acquired a breathtaking print of the film you won’t find on YouTube. Favorite Populuxe line of dialogue: “Better get her into the kitchen, quick!” Enjoy. Continue reading OUR “POPULUXE” PAST
Whew! Finally, something before my time. This is an article I came across detailing WLWT‘s move to a color mobile control room.
This is absolutely stunning! Samuel J. Seymour, at the time this episode of I’ve Got A Secret aired on February 9, 1956, was the last surviving witness to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Check it out: Continue reading WITNESS TO LINCOLN’S ASSASSINATION!
Betcha didn’t know that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer isn’t part of Christmas-past for very long. – certainly not as long as Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen… Rudolph is the creation of a department store, Montgomery Ward. He started out as a character in a coloring book in 1939, created to be given away to shoppers at Christmastime. 2.4 million copies of that coloring book were handed out. It wasn’t until 1948 that Rudolph’s story was told on film. Max Fleischer produced a theatrical cartoon short which I’ve included below for your viewing enjoyment. This was the first Rudolph cartoon! Continue reading YOU’LL GO DOWN IN HISTORY
Mrs. Helen Ferguson is devastated when kidnappers snatch her husband and hold him ransom for everything she’s got. Local news reporter Leo MacKenzie scores an exclusive, breaking news interview with Mrs. Ferguson. But once that interview is done, the crew discovers no audio was recorded. What happens next is classic Carol Burnett.
From 1973 comes this behind-the-scenes look at how WABC -TV in New York gets a newscast on the air at 6PM. The two highlights for me are seeing Bill Beutel and Geraldo Rivera doing their jobs. I am a fan of Rivera during his news days. Who can forget Willowbrook? I like watching how Rivera tells a story – so anti-establishment for that time and in some ways, would still be today. Continue reading WHEN GERALDO MATTERED
My aunt still thinks I repair TV sets! Seriously! I’m always asked just what it is a producer does. And I’ve been on the lookout for a self-contained, surefire explainer for the role of a TV producer. Fortunately, this rare and long lost British training film, Who Does What?, details in a rather stodgy manner what TV producers do. Continue reading WHAT A PRODUCER DOES
In the early days of television, what I call “warmth”, they referred to as “charm”. It’s a magical, mesmerizing quality you can’t quite define – that jumps from the screen and enraptures you in a blanket of utter delight. OK, that might be a tad over the top, but you can’t overstate the value of warmth in a morning TV host. There’s one television treasure, a true personality pioneer, whom few modern day producers or TV talent have ever heard of. She hosted a live morning show back in the ‘50’s, before Today or Good Morning America were ever dreamed up. She was the Oprah of her day, when viewers had the choice of only three programs to watch at any given time. When 11AM came around, everyone was watching Miss Arlene Francis.
Proper lighting is crucial to a successful TV show, newscast or production. Many companies hire their talent, pay them a fortune, and then skimp on the lighting – not bothering to bring in an expert lighting director. They throw away a costly investment by splashing a bunch of light all over the set and calling it a day. It’s especially obvious when a talent turns from one camera to another and the lighting doesn’t match both shots and shadows are thrown here and there. Although I am not a lighting director, I can certainly separate well-lit talent from poorly lit ones. Continue reading ILLUMINATING LOOK AT LIGHT
I accidentally came across one of my favorite movies the other day airing on TCM – Strangers on a Train. It’s a brilliant Hitchcock suspense thriller from 1951. Seeing the film again reminded me of an odd series of events that happened involving one of the film’s stars – Laura Elliot and TV star Kasey Rogers. Continue reading THE STRANGER BEFORE ME
The mid-eighties were the best years of the three major network’s annual fall preview promotions. It was a big deal. Every summer, viewers were bombarded with up-tempo, catchy theme songs cut to fast-paced video of network stars dancing down New York streets encouraging bystanders to “Come On Along”. Just starting out in TV then at an NBC affiliate, I was bombarded with many incarnations of “Be There” promos which I’ve yet to get out of my head! But ABC, by far, had the best campaigns. I want to show you my all-time favorite promo campaign theme song – “That Special Feeling” from ABC’s 1983-1984 Fall Preview Campaign. Continue reading “THAT SPECIAL FEELING” REMEMBERED
I still remember vividly that December night in 1979. The Who was to perform at a concert in Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum. But before it started, eleven fans were crushed to death when the coliseum doors opened. All the concertgoers had “festival seating” tickets, which meant it was a free-for-all for them to race to the best seats. Opening the doors resulted in a stampede as everyone clamored to get through. Continue reading HIS KID’S OKAY
My favorite show of all time… don’t judge me!… The Sonny And Cher Comedy Hour. Even now, 40 years after it first aired, it is mesmerizing to watch. And the reason it is? Because the show is nothing but the sum of all its parts. None of those parts could stand alone (and they tried in later years). Cher was OK at best. Sonny was just plain sad – but his lack of talent didn’t stop him from having his own prime time variety show! Continue reading SONNY THOUGHTS TO CHER